The festival, which took place at the Etihad Stadium, gave the children opportunities to take part in football activities, meet ex footballers Joleon Lescott and John Hartson and play in a tournament against other teams of similar age and skill.
One team representing Manchester United at the event took part in a match against Manchester City to showcase Unified Football, a national initiative gives disabled and abled players the opportunity to play sport together.
“I got to work with different people with different disabilities,” said Riley, a pupil from Newbridge Special School. “I wasn’t nervous about my match, because it’s all about taking part and it doesn’t matter if you win or lose.”
Saihann (pictured), a pupil from Brentwood Special School, a partner school of Manchester United Foundation, said, “It’s exciting to get this opportunity today to be able to meet and play football with new people.”
Teammate Sa’ad added, “It feels great to wear the Manchester United kit and play with other Premier League teams.”
Manchester United Foundation delivers Unified Football through its Inclusive Reds programme, which is funded by the Premier League and BT Sport and offers equal sport and physical activity opportunities for young people with disabilities.
Alex Wilson, disability and inclusion officer for Manchester United Foundation, explains, “Inclusive Reds is about creating a culture of inclusivity across all departments in the Foundation and is increasing the accessibility of many great projects such as training more staff to deliver training sessions and disability-specific sessions.”
Alex added, “A key outcome of the Disability Festival was to bring children together with different and similar disabilities to meet some other children in similar positions to them. Another was to welcome the newly partnered school, Brentwood, and to bring across kids with quite complex needs to join in with the experience.”
The Premier League and BT Disability Football Festival was a celebration event bringing together participants from clubs who run disability programmes supported by funding from the Premier League and BT.
Find out more about Inclusive Reds.